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Canto the Twelfth


I.

Of all the barbarous middle ages, that
Which is most barbarous is the middle age
Of man! it is--I really scarce know what;
But when we hover between fool and sage,
And don't know justly what we would be at--
A period something like a printed page,
Black letter upon foolscap, while our hair
Grows grizzled, and we are not what we were;--

II.

Too old for Youth,--too young, at thirty-five,
To herd with boys, or hoard with good threescore,--
I wonder people should be left alive;
But since they are, that epoch is a bore:
Love lingers still, although 't were late to wive:
And as for other love, the illusion's o'er;
And Money, that most pure imagination,
Gleams only through the dawn of its creation.[613]

III.

O Gold! Why call we misers miserable?[614]
Theirs is the pleasure that can never pall;
Theirs is the best bower anchor, the chain cable
Which holds fast other pleasures great and small.
Ye who but see the saving man at table,
And scorn his temperate board, as none at all,
And wonder how the wealthy can be sparing,
Know not what visions spring from each cheese-paring.

IV.

Love or lust makes Man sick, and wine much sicker;
Ambition rends, and gaming gains a loss;
But making money, slowly first, then quicker,
And adding still a little through each cross
(Which _will_ come over things), beats Love or liquor,
The gamester's counter, or the statesman's _dross_.
O Gold! I still prefer thee unto paper,
Which makes bank credit like a bank of _vapour_.

V.

Who hold the balance of the World? Who reign
O'er congress, whether royalist or liberal?
Who rouse the shirtless patriots of Spain?[615]
(That make old Europe's journals "squeak and gibber"[616] all)
Who keep the World, both old and new, in pain
Or pleasure? Who make politics run glibber all?
The shade of Buonaparte's noble daring?--
Jew Rothschild,[617] and his fellow-Christian, Baring.

VI.

Those, and the truly liberal Lafitte,[618]
Are the true Lords of Europe. Every loan
Is not a merely speculative hit,
But seats a Nation or upsets a Throne.
Republics also get involved a bit;
Columbia's stock hath holders not unknown
On 'Change; and even thy silver soil, Peru,
Must get itself discounted by a Jew.

VII.

Why call the miser miserable? as
I said before: the frugal life is his,
Which in a saint or cynic ever was
The theme of praise: a hermit would not miss
Canonization for the self-same cause,
And wherefore blame gaunt Wealth's austerities?
Because, you 'll say, nought calls for such a trial;--
Then there's more merit in his self-denial.

VIII.

He is your only poet;--Passion, pure
And sparkling on from heap to heap, displays,
_Possessed_, the ore, of which _mere hopes_ allure
Nations athwart the deep: the golden rays
Flash up in ingots from the mine obscure:
On him the Diamond pours its brilliant blaze,
While the mild Emerald's beam shades down the dies
Of other stones, to soothe the miser's eyes.

IX.

The lands on either side are his; the ship
From Ceylon, Inde, or far Cathay, unloads
For him the fragrant produce of each trip;
Beneath his cars of Ceres groan the roads,
And the vine blushes like Aurora's lip;
His very cellars might be Kings' abodes;
While he, despising every sensual call,
Commands--the intellectual Lord of _all_.

X.

Perhaps he hath great projects in his mind,
To build a college, or to found a race,
A hospital, a church,--and leave behind
Some dome surmounted by his meagre face:
Perhaps he fain would liberate Mankind
Even with the very ore which makes them base;
Perhaps he would be wealthiest of his nation,
Or revel in the joys of calculation.

XI.

But whether all, or each, or none of these
May be the hoarder's principle of action,
The fool will call such mania a disease:--
What is his _own?_ Go--look at each transaction,
Wars, revels, loves--do these bring men more ease
Than the mere plodding through each "vulgar fraction?"
Or do they benefit Mankind? Lean Miser!
Let spendthrifts' heirs inquire of yours--who's wiser?

XII.

How beauteous are rouleaus! how charming chests
Containing ingots, bags of dollars, coins
(Not of old victors, all whose heads and crests
Weigh not the thin ore where their visage shines,[lg]
But) of fine unclipped gold, where dully rests
Some likeness, which the glittering cirque confines,
Of modern, reigning, sterling, stupid stamp!--
Yes! ready money _is_ Aladdin's lamp.[619]

XIII.

"Love rules the Camp, the Court, the Grove,--for Love
Is Heaven, and Heaven is Love:"[620]--so sings the bard;
Which it were rather difficult to prove
(A thing with poetry in general hard).
Perhaps there may be something in "the Grove,"
At least it rhymes to "Love:" but I'm prepared
To doubt (no less than landlords of their rental)
If "Courts" and "Camps" be quite so sentimental.

XIV.

But if Love don't, _Cash_ does, and Cash alone:
Cash rules the Grove, and fells it too besides;
Without cash, camps were thin, and courts were none;
Without cash, Malthus tells you--"take no brides."[621]
So Cash rules Love the ruler, on his own
High ground, as virgin Cynthia sways the tides:
And as for "Heaven being Love," why not say honey
Is wax? Heaven is not Love, 't is Matrimony.

XV.

Is not all Love prohibited whatever,
Excepting Marriage? which is Love, no doubt,
After a sort; but somehow people never
With the same thought the two words have helped out.
Love may exist _with_ Marriage, and _should_ ever,
And Marriage also may exist without;
But Love _sans_ banns is both a sin and shame,
And ought to go by quite another name.

XVI.

Now if the "Court," and "Camp," and "Grove," be not
Recruited all with constant married men,
Who never coveted their neighbour's lot,
I say _that_ line's a lapsus of the pen;--
Strange too in my _buon camerado_ Scott,
So celebrated for his morals, when
My Jeffrey held him up as an example[622]
To me;--of whom these morals are a sample.[lh]

XVII.

Well, if I don't succeed, I _have_ succeeded,
And that's enough; succeeded in my youth,
The only time when much success is needed:
And my success produced what I, in sooth,
Cared most about; it need not now be pleaded--
Whate'er it was, 'twas mine; I've paid, in truth,
Of late, the penalty of such success,
But have not learned to wish it any less.

XVIII.

That suit in Chancery,[623]--which some persons plead
In an appeal to the unborn, whom they,
In the faith of their procreative creed,
Baptize Posterity, or future clay,--
To me seems but a dubious kind of reed
To lean on for support in any way;
Since odds are that Posterity will know
No more of them, than they of her, I trow.

XIX.[li]

Why, I'm Posterity--and so are you;
And whom do we remember? Not a hundred.
Were every memory written down all true,
The tenth or twentieth name would be but blundered;
Even Plutarch's Lives have but picked out a few,
And 'gainst those few your annalists have thundered;
And Mitford[624] in the nineteenth century
Gives, with Greek truth, the good old Greek the lie.

XX.

Good people all, of every degree,
Ye gentle readers and ungentle writers,
In this twelfth Canto 't is my wish to be
As serious as if I had for inditers
Malthus and Wilberforce:--the last set free
The Negroes, and is worth a million fighters;
While Wellington has but enslaved the Whites,
And Malthus[625] does the thing 'gainst which he writes.

XXI.

I'm serious--so are all men upon paper;
And why should I not form my speculation,
And hold up to the Sun my little taper?[626]
Mankind just now seem wrapped in meditation
On constitutions and steam-boats of vapour;
While sages write against all procreation,
Unless a man can calculate his means
Of feeding brats the moment his wife weans.

XXII.

That's noble! That's romantic! For my part,
I think that "Philo-genitiveness" is--
(Now here's a word quite after my own heart,
Though there's a shorter a good deal than this,
If that politeness set it not apart;
But I'm resolved to say nought that's amiss)--
I say, methinks that "Philo-genitiveness"[627]
Might meet from men a little more forgiveness.

XXIII.

And now to business.--O my gentle Juan!
Thou art in London--in that pleasant place,
Where every kind of mischief's daily brewing,
Which can await warm Youth in its wild race.
'T is true, that thy career is not a new one;
Thou art no novice in the headlong chase
Of early life; but this is a new land,
Which foreigners can never understand.

XXIV.

What with a small diversity of climate,
Of hot or cold, mercurial or sedate,
I could send forth my mandate like a Primate
Upon the rest of Europe's social state;
But thou art the most difficult to rhyme at,
Great Britain, which the Muse may penetrate.
All countries have their "Lions," but in thee
There is but one superb menagerie.

XXV.

But I am sick of politics. Begin--
_"Paulo Majora."_ Juan, undecided
Amongst the paths of being "taken in,"
Above the ice had like a skater glided:[lj]
When tired of play, he flirted without sin
With some of those fair creatures who have prided
Themselves on innocent tantalisation,[lk]
And hate all vice except its reputation.

XXVI.

But these are few, and in the end they make
Some devilish escapade or stir, which shows
That even the purest people may mistake
Their way through Virtue's primrose paths of snows;
And then men stare, as if a new ass spake
To Balaam, and from tongue to ear o'erflows
Quicksilver small talk, ending (if you note it)
With the kind World's Amen--"Who would have thought it?"

XXVII.

The little Leila, with her Orient eyes,
And taciturn Asiatic disposition,
(Which saw all Western things with small surprise,
To the surprise of people of condition,
Who think that novelties are butterflies
To be pursued as food for inanition,)
Her charming figure and romantic history
Became a kind of fashionable mystery.

XXVIII.

The women much divided--as is usual
Amongst the sex in little things or great--
Think not, fair creatures, that I mean to abuse you all,
I have always liked you better than I state--
Since I've grown moral, still I must accuse you all
Of being apt to talk at a great rate;
And now there was a general sensation
Amongst you, about Leila's education.

XXIX.

In one point only were you settled--and
You had reason; 't was that a young child of grace,
As beautiful as her own native land,
And far away, the last bud of her race,
Howe'er our friend Don Juan might command
Himself for five, four, three, or two years' space,
Would be much better taught beneath the eye
Of peeresses whose follies had run dry.

XXX.

So first there was a generous emulation,
And then there was a general competition,
To undertake the orphan's education:
As Juan was a person of condition,
It had been an affront on this occasion
To talk of a subscription or petition;
But sixteen dowagers, ten unwed she sages
Whose tale belongs to "Hallam's Middle Ages,"[628]

XXXI.

And one or two sad, separate wives, without
A fruit to bloom upon their withering bough--
Begged to bring _up_ the little girl, and _"out"_--
For that's the phrase that settles all things now,
Meaning a virgin's first blush at a rout,
And all her points as thorough-bred to show:
And I assure you, that like virgin honey
Tastes their first season (mostly if they have money).

XXXII.

How all the needy honourable misters,
Each out-at-elbow peer, or desperate dandy,
The watchful mothers, and the careful sisters,
(Who, by the by, when clever, are more handy
At making matches, where "'t is gold that glisters,"
Than their _he_ relatives), like flies o'er candy
Buzz round "the Fortune" with their busy battery,
To turn her head with waltzing and with flattery!

XXXIII.

Each aunt, each cousin, hath her speculation;
Nay, married dames will now and then discover
Such pure disinterestedness of passion,
I've known them court an heiress for their lover.
"_Tantoene!_" Such the virtues of high station,
Even in the hopeful Isle, whose outlet's "Dover!"
While the poor rich wretch, object of these cares,
Has cause to wish her sire had had male heirs.

XXXIV.

Some are soon bagged, and some reject three dozen:
'T is fine to see them scattering refusals
And wild dismay o'er every angry cousin
(Friends of the party), who begin accusals,
Such as--"Unless Miss Blank meant to have chosen
Poor Frederick, why did she accord perusals
To his billets? _Why_ waltz with him? Why, I pray,
Look _'Yes'_ last night, and yet say _'No'_ to-day?

XXXV.

"Why?--Why?--Besides, Fred really was _attached_;
'T was not her fortune--he has enough without;
The time will come she'll wish that she had snatched
So good an opportunity, no doubt:--
But the old Marchioness some plan had hatched,
As I'll tell Aurea at to-morrow's rout:
And after all poor Frederick may do better--
Pray did you see her answer to his letter?"

XXXVI.

Smart uniforms and sparkling coronets
Are spurned in turn, until her turn arrives,
After male loss of time, and hearts, and bets
Upon the sweepstakes for substantial wives;
And when at last the pretty creature gets
Some gentleman, who fights, or writes, or drives,
It soothes the awkward squad of the rejected
To find how very badly she selected.

XXXVII.

For sometimes they accept some long pursuer,
Worn out with importunity; or fall
(But here perhaps the instances are fewer)
To the lot of him who scarce pursued at all.
A hazy widower turned of forty 's sure[ll][629]
(If 't is not vain examples to recall)[lm]
To draw a high prize: now, howe'er he got her, I
See nought more strange in this than t' other lottery.

XXXVIII.

I, for my part--(one "modern instance" more,
"True,'t is a pity--pity 't is, 't is true")--[630]
Was chosen from out an amatory score,
Albeit my years were less discreet than few;
But though I also had reformed before
Those became one who soon were to be two,
I'll not gainsay the generous public's voice,
That the young lady made a monstrous choice.

XXXIX.

Oh, pardon my digression--or at least
Peruse! 'T is always with a moral end
That I dissert, like grace before a feast:
For like an agéd aunt, or tiresome friend,
A rigid guardian, or a zealous priest,
My Muse by exhortation means to mend
All people, at all times, and in most places,
Which puts my Pegasus to these grave paces.

XL.

But now I'm going to be immoral; now
I mean to show things really as they are,
Not as they ought to be: for I avow,
That till we see what's what in fact, we're far
From much improvement with that virtuous plough
Which skims the surface, leaving scarce a scar
Upon the black loam long manured by Vice,
Only to keep its corn at the old price.

XLI.

But first of little Leila we'll dispose,[ln]
For like a day-dawn she was young and pure--
Or like the old comparison of snows,[631]
(Which are more pure than pleasant, to be sure,
Like many people everybody knows),--
Don Juan was delighted to secure
A goodly guardian for his infant charge,
Who might not profit much by being at large.

XLII.

Besides, he had found out he was no tutor
(I wish that others would find out the same),[632]
And rather wished in such things to stand neuter,
For silly wards will bring their guardians blame:
So when he saw each ancient dame a suitor
To make his little wild Asiatic tame,
Consulting "the Society for Vice
Suppression," Lady Pinchbeck was his choice.

XLIII.

Olden she was--but had been very young;
Virtuous she was--and had been, I believe;
Although the World has such an evil tongue
That--but my chaster ear will not receive
An echo of a syllable that's wrong:[lo]
In fact, there's nothing makes me so much grieve,
As that abominable tittle-tattle,
Which is the cud eschewed[633] by human cattle.

XLIV.

Moreover I've remarked (and I was once
A slight observer in a modest way),
And so may every one except a dunce,
That ladies in their youth a little gay,
Besides their knowledge of the World, and sense
Of the sad consequence of going astray,
Are wiser in their warnings 'gainst the woe
Which the mere passionless can never know.

XLV.

While the harsh prude indemnifies her virtue
By railing at the unknown and envied passion,
Seeking far less to save you than to hurt you,
Or, what's still worse, to put you out of fashion,--
The kinder veteran with calm words will court you,
Entreating you to pause before you dash on;
Expounding and illustrating the riddle
Of epic Love's beginning--end--and middle.

XLVI.

Now whether it be thus, or that they are stricter,
As better knowing why they should be so,
I think you'll find from many a family picture,
That daughters of such mothers as may know
The World by experience rather than by lecture,
Turn out much better for the Smithfield Show
Of vestals brought into the marriage mart,
Than those bred up by prudes without a heart.

XLVII.

I said that Lady Pinchbeck had been talked about--
As who has not, if female, young, and pretty?
But now no more the ghost of Scandal stalked about;
She merely was deemed amiable and witty,
And several of her best _bons-mots_ were hawked about:
Then she was given to charity and pity,
And passed (at least the latter years of life)
For being a most exemplary wife.

XLVIII.

High in high circles, gentle in her own,
She was the mild reprover of the young,
Whenever--which means every day--they'd shown
An awkward inclination to go wrong.
The quantity of good she did 's unknown,
Or at the least would lengthen out my song:
In brief, the little orphan of the East
Had raised an interest in her,--which increased.

XLIX.

Juan, too, was a sort of favourite with her,
Because she thought him a good heart at bottom,
A little spoiled, but not so altogether;
Which was a wonder, if you think who got him,
And how he had been tossed, he scarce knew whither:
Though this might ruin others, it did _not_ him,
At least entirely--for he had seen too many
Changes in Youth, to be surprised at any.

L.

And these vicissitudes tell best in youth;
For when they happen at a riper age,
People are apt to blame the Fates, forsooth,
And wonder Providence is not more sage.
Adversity is the first path to Truth:
He who hath proved War--Storm--or Woman's rage,
Whether his winters be eighteen or eighty,
Hath won the experience which is deemed so weighty.

LI.

How far it profits is another matter.--
Our hero gladly saw his little charge
Safe with a lady, whose last grown-up daughter
Being long married, and thus set at large,
Had left all the accomplishments she taught her
To be transmitted, like the Lord Mayor's barge,
To the next comer; or--as it will tell
More Muse-like--like to Cytherea's shell.[lp]

LII.

I call such things transmission; for there is
A floating balance of accomplishment,
Which forms a pedigree from Miss to Miss,
According as their minds or backs are bent.
Some waltz--some draw--some fathom the abyss
Of Metaphysics; others are content
With Music; the most moderate shine as wits;--
While others have a genius turned for fits.

LIII.

But whether fits, or wits, or harpsichords--
Theology--fine arts--or finer stays,
May be the baits for Gentlemen or Lords
With regular descent, in these our days,
The last year to the new transfers its hoards;
New vestals claim men's eyes with the same praise
Of "elegant" _et cætera_, in fresh batches--
All matchless creatures--and yet bent on matches.

LIV.

But now I will begin my poem. 'Tis
Perhaps a little strange, if not quite new,
That from the first of Cantos up to this
I've not begun what we have to go through.
These first twelve books are merely flourishes,
_Preludios_, trying just a string or two
Upon my lyre, or making the pegs sure;
And when so, you shall have the overture.

LV.

My Muses do not care a pinch of rosin
About what's called success, or not succeeding:
Such thoughts are quite below the strain they have chosen;
'T is a "great moral lesson"[634] they are reading.
I thought, at setting off, about two dozen
Cantos would do; but at Apollo's pleading,
If that my Pegasus should not be foundered,
I think to canter gently through a hundred.

LVI.

Don Juan saw that Microcosm on stilts,
Yclept the Great World; for it is the least,
Although the highest: but as swords have hilts
By which their power of mischief is increased,
When Man in battle or in quarrel tilts,
Thus the low world, north, south, or west, or east,
Must still obey the high[635]--which is their handle,
Their Moon, their Sun, their gas, their farthing candle.

LVII.

He had many friends who had many wives, and was
Well looked upon by both, to that extent
Of friendship which you may accept or pass,
It does nor good nor harm; being merely meant
To keep the wheels going of the higher class,
And draw them nightly when a ticket's sent;
And what with masquerades, and fêtes, and balls,
For the first season such a life scarce palls.

LVIII.

A young unmarried man, with a good name
And fortune, has an awkward part to play;
For good society is but a game,
"The royal game of Goose,"[636] as I may say,
Where everybody has some separate aim,
An end to answer, or a plan to lay--
The single ladies wishing to be double,
The married ones to save the virgins trouble.

LIX.

I don't mean this as general, but particular
Examples may be found of such pursuits:
Though several also keep their perpendicular
Like poplars, with good principles for roots;
Yet many have a method more _reticular_--
"Fishers for men," like Sirens with soft lutes:
For talk six times with the same single lady,
And you may get the wedding-dresses ready.

LX.

Perhaps you'll have a letter from the mother,
To say her daughter's feelings are trepanned;
Perhaps you'll have a visit from the brother,
All strut, and stays, and whiskers, to demand
What "your intentions are?"--One way or other
It seems the virgin's heart expects your hand:
And between pity for her case and yours,
You'll add to Matrimony's list of cures.

LXI.

I've known a dozen weddings made even _thus_,
And some of them high names: I have also known
Young men who--though they hated to discuss
Pretensions which they never dreamed to have shown--
Yet neither frightened by a female fuss,
Nor by mustachios moved, were let alone,
And lived, as did the broken-hearted fair,
In happier plight than if they formed a pair.

LXII.

There's also nightly, to the uninitiated,
A peril--not indeed like Love or Marriage,
But not the less for this to be depreciated:
It is--I meant and mean not to disparage
The show of Virtue even in the vitiated--
It adds an outward grace unto their carriage--
But to denounce the amphibious sort of harlot,
_Couleur de rose_, who's neither white nor scarlet.

LXIII.

Such is your cold coquette, who can't say "No,"
And won't say "Yes," and keeps you on and off-ing
On a lee-shore, till it begins to blow--
Then sees your heart wrecked, with an inward scoffing.
This works a world of sentimental woe,[lq]
And sends new Werters yearly to their coffin;
But yet is merely innocent flirtation,
Not quite adultery, but adulteration.

LXIV.

"Ye gods, I grow a talker!"[637] Let us prate.
The next of perils, though I place it _stern_est,
Is when, without regard to Church or State,
A wife makes or takes love in upright earnest.
Abroad, such things decide few women's fate--
(Such, early Traveller! is the truth thou learnest)--
But in old England, when a young bride errs,
Poor thing! Eve's was a trifling case to hers.

LXV.

For 't is a low, newspaper, humdrum, lawsuit
Country, where a young couple of the same ages[lr]
Can't form a friendship, but the world o'erawes it.
Then there's the vulgar trick of those d----d damages!
A verdict--grievous foe to those who cause it!--
Forms a sad climax to romantic homages;
Besides those soothing speeches of the pleaders,
And evidences which regale all readers.

LXVI.

But they who blunder thus are raw beginners;
A little genial sprinkling of hypocrisy
Has saved the fame of thousand splendid sinners,
The loveliest oligarchs of our Gynocracy;[638]
You may see such at all the balls and dinners,
Among the proudest of our aristocracy,
So gentle, charming, charitable, chaste--
And all by having _tact_ as well as taste.

LXVII.

Juan, who did not stand in the predicament
Of a mere novice, had one safeguard more;
For he was sick--no, 't was not the word _sick_ I meant--
But he had seen so much good love before,
That he was not in heart so very weak;--I meant
But thus much, and no sneer against the shore
Of white cliffs, white necks, blue eyes, bluer stockings--
Tithes, taxes, duns--and doors with double knockings.[ls]

LXVIII.

But coming young from lands and scenes romantic,
Where lives, not lawsuits, must be risked for Passion
And Passion's self must have a spice of frantic,
Into a country where 't is half a fashion,
Seemed to him half commercial, half pedantic,
Howe'er he might esteem this moral nation:
Besides (alas! his taste--forgive and pity!)
At _first_ he did not think the women pretty.

LXIX.

I say at _first_--for he found out at _last_,
But by degrees, that they were fairer far
Than the more glowing dames whose lot is cast
Beneath the influence of the Eastern Star.
A further proof we should not judge in haste;
Yet inexperience could not be his bar
To taste:--the truth is, if men would confess,
That novelties _please_ less than they _impress_.

LXX.

Though travelled, I have never had the luck to
Trace up those shuffling negroes, Nile or Niger,
To that impracticable place Timbuctoo,
Where Geography finds no one to oblige her
With such a chart as may be safely stuck to--
For Europe ploughs in Afric like "_bos piger_:"[639]
But if I _had been_ at Timbuctoo, there
No doubt I should be told that black is fair.[lt][640]

LXXI.

It is. 1 will not swear that black is white,
But I suspect in fact that white is black,
And the whole matter rests upon eye-sight:--
Ask a blind man, the best judge. You'll attack
Perhaps this new position--but I'm right;
Or if I'm wrong, I'll not be ta'en aback:--
He hath no morn nor night, but all is dark
Within--and what seest thou? A dubious spark!

LXXII.

But I'm relapsing into Metaphysics,
That labyrinth, whose clue is of the same
Construction as your cures for hectic phthisics,
Those bright moths fluttering round a dying flame:
And this reflection brings me to plain Physics,
And to the beauties of a foreign dame,
Compared with those of our pure pearls of price,
Those polar summers, _all_ Sun, and some ice.[lu][641]

LXXIII.

Or say they are like virtuous mermaids, whose
Beginnings are fair faces, ends mere fishes;--
Not that there's not a quantity of those
Who have a due respect for their own wishes.
Like Russians rushing from hot baths to snows[642]
Are they, at bottom virtuous even when vicious:
They warm into a scrape, but keep of course,
As a reserve, a plunge into remorse.

LXXIV.

But this has nought to do with their outsides.
I said that Juan did not think them pretty
At the first blush; for a fair Briton hides
Half her attractions--probably from pity--And
rather calmly into the heart glides,
Than storms it as a foe would take a city;
But once _there_ (if you doubt this, prithee try)[lv]
She keeps it for you like a true ally.

LXXV.

She cannot step as does an Arab barb,[643]
Or Andalusian girl from mass returning,
Nor wear as gracefully as Gauls her garb,
Nor in her eye Ausonia's glance is burning;
Her voice, though sweet, is not so fit to warb-
le those _bravuras_ (which I still am learning
To like, though I have been seven years in Italy,
And have, or had, an ear that served me prettily);--

LXXVI.

She cannot do these things, nor one or two
Others, in that off-hand and dashing style
Which takes so much--to give the Devil his due;
Nor is she quite so ready with her smile,
Nor settles all things in one interview,
(A thing approved as saving time and toil);--
But though the soil may give you time and trouble,
Well cultivated, it will render double.

LXXVII.

And if in fact she takes to a _grande passion_,
It is a very serious thing indeed:
Nine times in ten 't is but caprice or fashion,
Coquetry, or a wish to take the lead,
The pride of a mere child with a new sash on,
Or wish to make a rival's bosom bleed:
But the _tenth_ instance will be a tornado,
For there's no saying what they will or may do.

LXXVIII.

The reason's obvious: if there's an _éclat_,
They lose their caste at once, as do the Parias;
And when the delicacies of the Law
Have filled their papers with their comments various,
Society, that china without flaw,
(The Hypocrite!) will banish them like Marius,
To sit amidst the ruins of their guilt:[644]
For Fame's a Carthage not so soon rebuilt.

LXXIX.

Perhaps this is as it should be;--it is
A comment on the Gospel's "Sin no more,
And be thy sins forgiven:"--but upon this
I leave the Saints to settle their own score.
Abroad, though doubtless they do much amiss,
An erring woman finds an opener door
For her return to Virtue--as they call
That Lady, who should be at home to all.[lw]

LXXX.

For me, I leave the matter where I find it,
Knowing that such uneasy virtue leads
People some ten times less in fact to mind it,
And care but for discoveries, and not deeds.
And as for Chastity, you'll never bind it
By all the laws the strictest lawyer pleads,
But aggravate the crime you have not prevented,
By rendering desperate those who had else repented.

LXXXI.

But Juan was no casuist, nor had pondered
Upon the moral lessons of mankind:
Besides, he had not seen of several hundred
A lady altogether to his mind.
A little _blasé_--'t is not to be wondered
At, that his heart had got a tougher rind:
And though not vainer from his past success,
No doubt his sensibilities were less.

LXXXII.

He also had been busy seeing sights--
The Parliament and all the other houses;
Had sat beneath the Gallery at nights,
To hear debates whose thunder _roused_ (not _rouses_)
The World to gaze upon those Northern Lights,
Which flashed as far as where the musk-bull browses;[645]
He had also stood at times behind the Throne--
But Grey[646] was not arrived, and Chatham gone.[647]

LXXXIII.

He saw, however, at the closing session,
That noble sight, when _really_ free the nation,
A King in constitutional possession
Of such a Throne as is the proudest station,
Though Despots know it not--till the progression
Of Freedom shall complete their education.
'T is not mere Splendour makes the show august
To eye or heart--it is the People's trust.

LXXXIV.

There, too, he saw (whate'er he may be now)
A Prince, the prince of Princes at the time,[648]
With fascination in his very bow,
And full of promise, as the spring of prime.
Though Royalty was written on his brow,
He had _then_ the grace, too, rare in every clime,
Of being, without alloy of fop or beau,
A finished Gentleman from top to toe.[649]

LXXXV.

And Juan was received, as hath been said,
Into the best society; and there
Occurred what often happens, I'm afraid,
However disciplined and debonnaire:--
The talent and good humour he displayed,
Besides the marked distinction of his air,
Exposed him, as was natural, to temptation,
Even though himself avoided the occasion.

LXXXVI.

But what, and where, with whom, and when, and why,
Is not to be put hastily together;
And as my object is Morality
(Whatever people say), I don't know whether
I'll leave a single reader's eyelid dry,
But harrow up his feelings till they wither,
And hew out a huge monument of pathos,
As Philip's son proposed to do with Athos.[650]

LXXXVII.

Here the twelfth canto of our Introduction
Ends. When the body of the Book's begun,
You'll find it of a different construction
From what some people say 't will be when done;
The plan at present 's simply in concoction.
I can't oblige you, reader, to read on;
That's your affair, not mine: a real spirit
Should neither court neglect, nor dread to bear it.

LXXXVIII.

And if my thunderbolt not always rattles,
Remember, reader! you have had before,
The worst of tempests and the best of battles,
That e'er were brewed from elements or gore,
Besides the most sublime of--Heaven knows what else;
An usurer could scarce expect much more--
But my best canto--save one on astronomy--
Will turn upon "Political Economy."[651]

LXXXIX.

_That_ is your present theme for popularity:
Now that the public hedge hath scarce a stake,
It grows an act of patriotic charity,
To show the people the best way to break.
_My plan_ (but I, if but for singularity,
Reserve it) will be very sure to take.
Meantime, read all the National-Debt sinkers,
And tell me what you think of our great thinkers.[652]


FOOTNOTES:

{455}[613] [See letter to Douglas Kinnaird, dated Genoa, January 18,
1823.]

[614] [Johnson would not believe that "a complete miser is a happy man."
"That," he said, "is flying in the face of all the world, who have
called an avaricious man a _miser_, because he is miserable. No, sir; a
man who both spends and saves money is the happiest man, because he has
both enjoyments."--Boswell's _Life of Johnson_, 1876, p. 605.]

{456}[615] [The _Descamisados_, or Sansculottes of the Spanish
Revolution of 1820-1823. For Spanish "Liberals," see _Quarterly Review_,
April, 1823, vol. xxix. pp. 270-276.]

[616] [_Hamlet_, act i. sc. 1, line 116.]

[617] [See _The Age of Bronze_, line 678, sq., _Poetical Works_, 1901,
v. 573, note 3.]

[618] [Jacques Laffitte (1767-1844), as Governor of the Bank of France,
advanced sums to Parisians to meet their enforced contributions to the
allies, and, in 1817, advocated liberal measures as a Deputy.]

{458}[lg] _Were not worth one whereon their profile shines_.--[MS.
erased.]

[619] ["They say that 'Knowledge is Power';--I used to think so; but I
now know that they meant Money ... every guinea is a philosopher's
stone, or at least his _touch_-stone. You will doubt me the less, when I
pronounce my pious belief--that _Cash is Virtue_."--Letter to Kinnaird,
February 6, 1822, _Letters_, 1901, vi. 11.]

[620] [_Lay of the Last Minstrel_, Canto III. stanza ii. lines 4-6.]

{459}[621] [See Godwin's Essay _Of Population_, 1820 (pp. 18, 19, et
passim), in which he renews his attack on Malthus's _Essay on the
Principles of Population_.]

[622] ["We have no notion that Lord B[yron] had any mischievous
intention in these publications--and readily acquit him of any wish to
corrupt the morals, or impair the happiness of his readers ... but it is
our duty ... to say, that much of what he has published appears to us to
have this tendency.... How opposite to this is the system, or the
temper, of the great author of Waverley!"--_Edinburgh Review_, February,
1822, vol. 36, p. 451.]

[lh]
---- _for his moral pen_
_Held up to me by Jeffrey as example_.
_Of which with profit--as you'll soon see by a sample_.--[MS. erased.]

{460}[623] [In the case of Murray v. Benbow (February 9, 1822), the Lord
Chancellor (Lord Eldon) refused the motion for an injunction to restrain
the defendant from publishing a pirated edition of Lord Byron's poem of
Cain (Jacob's _Reports_, p. 474, note). Hence (see _var._ i.) the
allusion to "Law" and "Equity." The "suit" and the "appeal" (vide ibid.)
refer to legal proceedings taken, or intended to be taken, with regard
to certain questions arising out of the disposition of property under
Lady Noel's will. (See letters to Charles Hanson, September 21, November
30, 1822, _Letters_, 1901, vi. 115, 146.)]

[li]
_That suit in Chancery--have a Chancery suit--
In right good earnest--also an appeal
Before the Lords, whose Chancellor's more acute
In Law than Equity--as I can feel
Because my Cases put his Lordship to 't
And--though no doubt 't is for the Public weal,
His Lordship's Justice is not that of Solomon--
Not that I deem our Chief Judge is a hollow man_.--[MS. erased.]

[624] See [William] Mitford's Greece (1829, v. 314, 315), _"Græcia
Verax."_ His great pleasure consists in praising tyrants, abusing
Plutarch, spelling oddly, and writing quaintly; and what is strange,
after all, _his_ is the best modern history of Greece in any language,
and he is perhaps the best of all modern historians whatsoever. Having
named his sins, it is but fair to state his virtues--learning, labour,
research, wrath, and partiality. I call the latter virtues in a writer,
because they make him write in earnest.

[Byron consulted Mitford when he was at work on _Sardanapalus_. (See
Extracts from a Diary, January 5, 1821, _Letters_, 1901, v. 152, note
1.)]

{461}[625] [Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) married, in 1804, Harriet,
daughter of John Eckersall of Claverton House, near Bath. There were
three children of the marriage, of whom two survived him. Byron may be
alluding to the apocryphal story of "his eleven daughters," related by
J.L.A. Cherbuliez, in the _Journal des Économistes_ (1850, vol. xxv. p.
135): "Un soir ... il y avait cercle chez M. de Sismondi, à sa maison de
campagne près de Genève.... Enfin, on annonce le _révérend Malthus et sa
famille_. Sa famille!... Alors on voit entrer une charmante jeune fille,
puis une seconde, puis une troisième, puis une quatrième, puis ... Il
n'y en avait, ma fois, pas moins de onze!" See _Malthus and his Work_,
by James Bonar, 1885, pp. 412, 413. See, too, _Nouveau Dictionnaire de
L'Économie Politique_, 1892, art. "Malthus."]

[626] [Compare--

"How commentators each dark passage shun,
And hold their farthing candle to the sun."

_Love of Fame, the Universal Passion_, by Edward Young, _Sat_. vii.
lines 97, 98.]

{462}[627] [Philo-_pro_genitiveness. Spurzheim and Gall discover the
organ of this name in a bump behind the ears, and say it is remarkably
developed in the bull.]

[lj] _He played and paid, made love without much sin_.--[MS. erased.]

{463}[lk] _Themselves on seldom yielding to temptation_.--[MS. erased.]

{464}[628] [Henry Hallam (1778-1859) published his _View of the State of
Europe in the Middle Ages_ in 1818.]

{465}[ll] _A drunken Gentleman of forty's sure._--[MS.]

[629] This line may puzzle the commentators more than the present
generation.

[lm]
_If he can hiccup nonsense at a ball._
or, _If he goes after dinner to a ball_.-[MS. erased.]

{466}[630] [_As You Like It_, act ii. sc. 7, line 156; and _Hamlet_, act
ii. sc. 2, lines, 97, 98.]

[ln] _But first of little Leilah----._--[MS.]

[631] [For the allusion to "unsunned snows," vide ante, p. 275, note 1.]

{467}[632] [The reference may be to Hobhouse and the "Zoili of Albemarle
Street," who did their best to "tutor" him with regard to "blazing
indiscretions" in _Don Juan_.]

[lo]
_That--but I will not listen, by your leave,
Unto a single syllable_----.--[MS.]

[633] [For another instance of this curious mistake, see letter to
Hodgson, December 8, 1811, _Letters_, 1898, ii. 85; et ibid., p. 31,
note 1.]

{469}[lp]
_Painted and gilded--or, as it will tell
More Muse-like--say--like Cytherea's shell_.--[MS.]

{470}[634] [Vide ante, Preface to Cantos VI., VII., and VIII., p. 266.]

[635] ["Enfin partout la bonne société régle tout."--Voltaire.]

{471}[636] ["This game originated, I believe, in Germany.... It is
called the game of the _goose_, because at every fourth and fifth
compartment of the table in succession a _goose_ is depicted; and if the
cast thrown by the player falls upon a _goose_, he moves forward double
the number of his throw" (_Sports and Pastimes, etc._, by Joseph Strutt,
1801, p. 250).

Goldsmith, in his _Deserted Village_, among other "parlour splendours,"
mentions "the twelve good rules, the royal game of goose."]

{472}[lq]
_Most young beginners may be taken so,
But those who have been a little used to roughing
Know how to end this half-and-half flirtation_.--[MS. erased.]

[637] ["I'll grow a talker for this gear."

_Merchant of Venice_, act i. sc. 1, line 110.]

{473}[lr] _Country where warm young people_----.--[MS. erased.]

[638] [Pope and Scott use the quasi-contracted "gynocracy" for
"gynæcocracy." (See _N. Engl. Dict._)]

[ls]
_Of white cliffs--and white bosoms--and blue eyes--
And stockings--virtues, loves and Chastities_.--[MS. erased.]

{474}[639] [Hor., _Epist._, lib. 1, ep. xiv. line 43. The meaning is
that Europe makes but little progress in the discovery and settlement of
Africa, and, as it were, "ploughs the sands."]

[lt]
_Though many thousands both of birth and pluck too,
Have ventured past the jaws of Moor and Tiger_.[*]

[*]_Note. By particular licence, "positively for the last time, by
desire," etc., to be pronounced "tydger." Such is what Gifford calls
"the necessity of rhyming."_--[MS. erased.]

[640] ["Though many degrees nearer our own fair and blue-eyed beauties
in complexion ... yet no people ever lost more by comparison than did
the white ladies of Moorzuk [capital of Fezzan] with the black ones of
Bornou and Soudan."--_Narrative of Travels ... in Northern and Central
Africa_, 1822-24, by Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney, 1828, ii. 133.]

{475}[lu] _Above, all sunshine, and, below, all ice_.--[MS. erased.]

[641] [Compare _Prisoner of Chillon_, lines 82-85, _Poetical Works_,
1901, iv. 17.]

[642] The Russians, as is well known, run out from their hot baths to
plunge into the Neva; a pleasant practical antithesis, which it seems
does them no harm.

{476}[lv] _But once there (few have felt this more than I)_.--[MS.
erased.]

[643] [Compare _Childe Harold_, Canto II. stanza lviii. line 9,
_Poetical Works_, 1899, ii. 59, note 1.]

{477}[644] [See Plutarch's _Caius Marius_, Langhorne's translation,
1838, pp. 304, 305.]

[lw] _That Lady who is not at home to all_.--[MS. erased.]

{478}[645] For a description and print of this inhabitant of the polar
region and native country of the Aurorae Boreales, see Sir E. Parry's
_Voyage In Search of a North-West Passage_, [1821, p. 257. The print of
the Musk-Bull is drawn and engraved by W. Westall, A.R.A., from a sketch
by Lieut. Beechy. He is a "fearful wild-fowl!"]

[646] [Charles, second Earl Grey, born March 13, 1764, succeeded to the
peerage in 1807, died July 17, 1847.]

[647] [William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham, born November 15, 1708, died
May 11, 1778.]

[648] ["His person was undoubtedly cast by Nature in an elegant and
pleasing mould, of a just height, well-proportioned, and with due regard
to symmetry.... His countenance was handsome and prepossessing.... His
manners were captivating, noble, and dignified, yet unaffectedly
condescending.... Homer, as well as Virgil, was familiar to the Prince
of Wales; and his memory, which was very tenacious, enabled him to cite
with graceful readiness the favourite passages of either poet."--_The
Historical ... Memoirs_ of Sir N.W. Wraxall, 1884, v. 353, 354.]

[649] ["Waving myself, let me talk to you of the Prince Regent. He
ordered me to be presented to him at a ball; and after some sayings
peculiarly pleasing from royal lips, as to my own attempts, he talked to
me of you and your immortalities; he preferred you to every other bard
past and present.... He spoke alternately of Homer and yourself, and
seemed well acquainted with both.... [All] this was conveyed in language
which would only suffer by my attempting to transcribe it, and with a
tone and taste which gave me a very high idea of his abilities and
accomplishments, which I had hitherto considered as confined to
_manners_ certainly superior to those of any living
_gentleman_."--Letter to Sir Walter Scott, July 6, 1812, _Letters_,
1898, ii. 134.]

{479}[650] B. 10^bre^ 7^th^ 1822.--[MS.]

A sculptor projected to hew Mount Athos into a statue of Alexander, with
a city in one hand, and, I believe, a river in his pocket, with various
other similar devices. But Alexander's gone, and Athos remains, I trust
ere long to look over a nation of freemen.

[It was an architect named Stasicrates who proposed to execute this
imperial monument. But Alexander bade him leave Mount Athos alone. As it
was, it might be christened "Xerxes, his Folly," and, for his part, he
preferred to regard Mount Caucasus, and the Himalayas, and the river Don
as the symbolic memorials of his acts and deeds.--Plutarch's _Moralia_.
"De Alexandri Fortuna et Virtute," Orat. II. cap. ii.]

{480}[651] [The "Political Economy" Club was founded in April, 1821.
James Mill, Thomas Tooke, and David Ricardo were among the original
members, See _Political Economy Club_, Revised Report, 1876, p. 60.]

[652] [Stanzas lxxxviii. and lxxxix. are not in the MS.]

Lord George Gordon Byron